Gas costs and fear escalate


It’s creeping again.

I’m not an avid follower of gas prices. Oh, I have friends and family that can tell you the current gas prices at every station in a 60-mile radius. They have an entire network of gas price-followers that seemingly convene daily to discuss what station has the cheapest prices on what specific day. Me? I kind of figure I need gas to make my car move, so I pull into a station and fill it up when my little light tells me that it’s time to feed the beast.

I know. I shouldn’t wait until the light comes on to fill my tank. I know, I know, I know. But I also know that I shouldn’t wait until I need an ice pick to scrape out the last remnants from my toothpaste tube to buy more, and that I should go to a doctor when I first notice burning and itching sensations instead of waiting for things to just go away on their own or fall off from ...

But I digress.

I do, however, typically pay attention to how much it costs to fill my tank — particularly when I enter the amount in my checkbook if I happened to use my debit card for that particular transaction. And I have noticed that the cost has been going back up again recently.

Last summer, when gas prices were becoming more expensive than family court attorneys arguing paternity over Anna Nicole Smith’s baby, I asked Rep. Gerald Hocker about the rising costs. Hocker, who runs grocery stores and gas pumps as a day job, explained that there was a summer additive to the gasoline that is required by the state of Delaware, and that the gas station owners weren’t really making much money during high prices because they had to keep the prices as low as possible to try to be at least somewhat competitive with the stations in neighboring Maryland towns — a state which requires no such additives to their gasoline in Worcester County.

And that, dear readers, was an amazingly long sentence.

Regardless, gas prices are again beginning to creep up on us. My fretting personality makes me worry about the summer months — of high prices, predicted fuel shortages and general civil discord. However, I do feel comfortable that we won’t see a situation like the one recently exhibited in Myanmar — formerly known as Burma.

Police there recently arrested Maung Myo Win for reportedly trying to steal a minivan in downtown Yangon, according to a Reuters story. Apparently, the alleged car thief admitted during interrogation to at least 10 other car thefts. Now, I’m guessing most people would admit to all kind of things during an interrogation in Myanmar, but this particular confession struck me as interesting, to say the least.

According to police, the alleged car thief said he stole the cars in order to swipe the fuel inside them. Further investigation by the police revealed that the cars in question had indeed all been found, and were, in fact, out of gas.

Yes, the valuable thing this man was pilfering was gas.

Myanmar has been run by its military for 45 years, and rations out gasoline to about 60 gallons per month, per car owner. Their rate is about 1,500 kayat a gallon — about $1.22 in American currency. However, a booming black market for gasoline has sprouted in the nation, where people can buy their fuel for about 4,200 kayat a gallon — or, approximately $3.42 in American money, if you take the word of a math-challenged newspaper editor.

Could it really ever devolve to a point where a black market for gasoline is spawned in this nation if we continue at our current pace? I’m guessing not, if for no other reason, I’m not totally convinced that we face a gas shortage anywhere near what we’re often led to believe.

But we do have some problems. I have to chuckle every time I hear someone rage against American companies buying gas from Venezuela, when we actively engage in business with Middle Eastern countries that have actively sponsored or supported terrorists — terrorists, mind you, who have attacked our nation and continue to search for ways to do so again.

So, yes, I am a proponent of alternative fuel sources, simply because I hate the thought of being beholden to some nations that I’d rather see us not actively engage in a friendly manner until their behavior significantly changes. Plus, I’m a little tired of hearing the giant oil companies cry poor while their profits continue to soar to record heights.

Let’s open our eyes and minds a little bit. Do we really want to get to the point where some columnist in Myanmar is making fun of Bob Bertram for stealing cars for the gas?